The five key battles that could win or lose the game for Milan against Bologna

By Mitchell Wilks -

AC Milan host Bologna at San Siro tonight in what is another must-win fixture, in order to reinstate a points gap to Napoli and Inter atop of the Serie A table.

Milan head into the game off the back of three consecutive wins, but a number of fascinating battles across the pitch could dictate tonight’s result. Starting at the back, Bologna have only scored once in their last four league games, which should give Mike Maignan the confidence to secure a fifth clean sheet in a row.

However, with Marko Arnautovic leading the line for the visitors, the young duo of Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu must remain focused and physical throughout the duration of the match, with the veteran forward looking for a 10th league goal of the season.

With Bologna expected to set up in their 3-4-3 formation, getting Theo Hernandez beyond the wing back – likely Mitchell Dijks – is key to overloading in the final third and isolating central defenders by linking up with Rafael Leao, who scored in the reverse fixture and will look to end a drought stretching back to February.

Ismael Bennacer and Sandro Tonali must show resilience, especially with the contest likely to open up at points in the game, but must also dominate possession and move the ball with purpose. Mattias Svanberg has impressed in Bologna’s midfield this season, joining attacks and racking up impressive goal contributions. Keeping the Milan-linked 23-year-old quiet could prove decisive.

Aaron Hickey has burst to life in Serie A since signing for Bologna in 2020 and, at just 19, has a bright future ahead of him. The versatile wing back is strong in the transition, progressing play and more than capable of hurting a side, having bagged four Serie A goals this season. And with Stefano Pioli still unsure on his right wing options, Junior Messias must be at his best in order to keep the young Scotland international pinned back.

Finally, Olivier Giroud has proven a key cog in Stefano Pioli’s machine and must do so again. His form saw him head off to international duty with France, where he managed a goal in both of their games. Having scored the all-important winner against Napoli almost a month ago, the Frenchman must carry his international prowess back into club football. Playing as a lone striker against three central defenders could prove challenging, but his technical ability and strength could be key in linking the attacks together.

Tags AC Milan Milan Bologna
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